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Quran

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esus in the Quran: His Reality Expounded in the Quran Hamid Algar

Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 1999. 47 pages. $3.95 (ISBN: 1-889999-09-1).

Reviewed by Haidar Moukdad, Ph.D. McGill University MOUKDAD@GSLIS.Lan.McGill.CA

rophecy has been a source of aspiration and fascination throughout Islamic history. While Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, is considered the Seal of the Prophets, other names have gained prominence in Islamic tradition. Perhaps none of these names is more prominent and revered in Islamic writings than Jesus, the prophetic symbol of Christianity. Hamid Algars work is a good and poignant example of Muslim writers fascination with Jesus and his position in Muslim minds and hearts. Examining the Qurans views of Jesus and his teachings, Algars details the Holy Books perception of the Messenger of Allah and painstakingly extract Quranic verses as proofs of Jesus special position as a proclaimer of the coming of Muhammad, the last messenger. The Quran cites Jesus as one of the messengers sent to the Children of Israel, a figure to whom specific and distinctive miracles were entrusted. His birth was without either human or divine paternity, and the notion of divine paternity is thoroughly and explicitly refuted in the Quran as a form of heretic belief: Jesus is not the son of God. I n fact, Allah describes Jesus as the son of Mary not only as His word infused into her but also as a spirit from Him.
Jesus and the Quran: H i s Reality Expounded in the Qurhn-Moukdad

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Summer 2000

Algars explains this phenomenon as a mystery that lies beyond the realm of human comprehension and detailed perception. Then, he moves on to reject the central Christian belief (illusion) that Jesus is in some sense the son of Allah, and he cites a number of relevant verses to support his argument. Having argued that the Quran offers the final word on the birth and the family lineage of Jesus, Algar continues his discussion of Jesus in the Quran by examining the scope of his mission as a messenger. Again, he draws on verses to argue that Jesus mission was precisely to the Children of Israel: When Jesus son of Mary said, 0 Childrenof lsrael, I am the messenger ofAllah to you (61:6). Therefore, the mission and the message of Jesus were to aparticular people for a particular time. The author emphasizes this point because it is further proof that Christianity has committed a serious aberration in attributing to him sonship, and it has also erred in attributing to him a universal mission and message. Algar concludes his work with a refutation of the very bedrock of Christian belief, which can be found in the assertion of Jesus crucifixion. In the same way that the Quran destroys the repugnant and illogical notion of his sonhood, it also utterly refutes the concept and reality of his having been crucified. The Quran refutes the crucifixion in the context of a series of condemnation of the Children of Israels for their claim to killing Jesus, and of Christians for their belief in it. Jesus was neither killed, whether on the cross or off it, nor was he put on the cross, at any point. The Quran does not provide clear explanation of how Jesus was spared: there was an appearance to the children of Israel that Jesus had been killed and crucified, an appearance created by means not specified in the Quranic text. However, Algar mentions several commentaries that try to explain the circumstances surrounding h s escape from death and his ascension to heaven. This work is typical in its portrayal of Jesus as just another prophet of Islam. It seeks to highlight the Jewish rejection of Jesus and the Christian exaggeration of his actual message. While trying to reaffirm Islamic perception of Jesus, Algar has produced a narrative account of his life as illustrated in the Quran. His work is not going to change the way believers and non-believers perceive Jesus role in the history the three monolithic religions, but it is certainly worth pondering. It is a modest contribution in the field of religious studies and should make interesting reading for the general reader who knows little or nothing about Jesus in the context of IsIam.

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Digest of Middle East Studies